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 Topic: Qur'anic studies today

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  • Qur'anic studies today
     OP - October 26, 2014, 05:52 PM

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mXYMLut8WCI
    Quote from: Ian David Morris
    Holger Zellentin is Associate Professor in Jewish Studies at the University of Nottingham. His ongoing project, Jewish Christianity and the Quran, explores the possibility of ritual connexions between the earliest followers of Jesus and Muhammad.

    In this video – interviewed by Tom O’Loughlin – he sketches out the field of Qur’anic studies in Western academia today. He sees three main approaches at work. Traditionalists work squarely within the familiar Islamic framework, using the classical tools of exegesis and hadith criticism. Neo-traditionalists accept the Islamic narrative in broad strokes, but are more sceptical of the particulars. Revisionists, on the other hand, doubt that the Islamic historical tradition can be relied on to illuminate the Qur’an in any meaningful way.

    Within the neo-traditionalist camp Zellentin places the Corpus Coranicum project associated with Angelika Neuwirth (Freie Universität Berlin), as well as a less formal network of scholars clustered around the work of Gabriel Said Reynolds (Notre Dame). Revisionists include the bolshy Inârah Institute, who would disentangle the life of Muhammad from the study of the Qur’an entirely.

    It’s significant, I think, that Zellentin doesn’t bother to mention any particular traditionalist scholar or group in this, admittedly brief, overview. The collision of very revisionist and very traditionalist scholarship in the ’70s and ’80s has opened the field to deeper, more innovative criticism of (and within) the Islamic historical tradition. Wholesale revisionists – as Zellentin defines them – may still be out on the fringe, but traditionalist scholarship looks hopelessly passé.

    Go to Ian David Morris's blog for additional links: http://www.iandavidmorris.com/video-quranic-studies-today-holger-zellentin/
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1 - October 26, 2014, 06:16 PM

    Holger Zellentin's research interests: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/theology/people/holger.zellentin#lookup-ahrc-fellowship-jewish-christianity-and-the-quran_ft
    Quote
    Two aspects of Late Antique religious history have puzzled scholars for over a century: one, the gradual disappearance of those parts of the Jesus movement that were committed to ritual purity ('Jewish Christianity') from the fourth century C.E. onwards, and two, the appearance of Islam in the seventh century. My research project situates the Qur'an vis-à-vis the supposedly vanished tradition of ritually committed followers of Jesus and explains tendencies throughout Late Antiquity, from Matthew to Muhammad, that may allow us to appreciate both the Qur'an and Jewish Christianity as illuminating each other.

    My central claim is that many-though by far not all-of the Qur'an's laws, especially concerning ritual, civil, and criminal matters, as well as the legal narratives justifying these laws, engage a concrete legal culture. This culture can largely be approached through two Late Antique texts, each attested in various versions from the third through the seventh century, the Didascalia Apostolorum and the ("pseudo"-) Clementine Homilies. These texts attest to a Jewish Christian tradition, distinct from rabbinic and Greek and Syriac Christianity, which remained largely stable up to the seventh century. I seek to understand the Qur'an's many continuities, as well as its specific criticisms of, and changes to, the legal traditions of its time. In effect, the Qur'an evaluates nearly all of the Jewish Christian laws, explicitly rejecting some, while accepting, modifying, and integrating most others into its own legal system.

    The project allows for a more concrete understanding how the Qur'an relates to Judaism and Christianity. The research project includes a collaboration with the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme at the Faculty of the Divinity at the University of Cambridge, which housed a workshop on "Jesus and the Law in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam;" a collaboration with the Quran seminar at the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame; and a conference titled "Return to the Origins: the Qur'an's Reformation of Judaism and Christianity," at the University of Nottingham. Related publications include a monograph on the Didascalia Apostolorum and the Qur'an (forthcoming), a monograph on Jewish Christianity and the Quran more broadly (under contract with OUP), the publication of the conference proceedings, and contributions to the a collaborative Quran Commentary edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds and Mehdi Azaiez.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #2 - October 27, 2014, 04:33 PM

    Pretty accurate summary in my book, and he's dead-on right to point to Gabriel Said Reynolds and his cohorts as the main focus of Qur'anic studies nowadays.

    Really what happened was a split over Luxenberg.  Prior to Luxenberg, you had a mainstream Orientalist school in the tradition of Noldeke, exemplified by Neuwirth, that was mildly critical, combined with some 'outliers' who made some very aggressive critical attacks (Wansborough, early Crone/Cook, Nevo/Koren).

    When Luxenberg began rampaging in the public's eye, Qur'anic studies split.  The Neuwirth faction  reviled Luxenberg and tried to dismiss his arguments entirely.  On the other hand, Gabriel Said Reynolds led a group of scholars who broke away and engaged Luxenberg, generally disagreeing with most of his arguments but finding that he had raised some fascinating points that cast tremendous doubt on the traditional school as a whole.  I think the single most distinctive characteristic of the 'Reynolds' school is their acceptance that we are still uncertain about even the most fundamental questions about early Islam.  For example, we still have an incredibly weak understanding of what sort of language the Qur'anic rasm reflects.

    What we have seen is the death of certainty in Qur'anic studies, replaced with a fascinating explosion of speculative analysis.  Fred Donner is really "Exhibit A" in how this process has gone.  He began his career as a typical traditionalist, but he migrated over to the 'critical' camp.  Almost every young scholar nowadays, so far as I can tell, has done the same.  Even Neuwirth appears to have done this recently, moving to discuss how 'communities' composed the Qur'an in collaboration, which is another way of saying (IMO) that it is a collective work composed over a fairly long period of time, which is manifestly correct.

    The 'neotraditionalists' are really a fairly small group, and I'm not sure I really like that terminology much.  Neotraditionalists are really those scholars who are not just slavishly repeating the traditional Islamic scholarship, but rather trying to prove traditional elements of Islam to be supported by modern critical analysis, rather than just repeating Islamic tradition.  Motzki, Sadegh, Goudarzi are the leading examples here.

    Then there are radical revisionists, mostly associated with Inarah group, but again they are a very small school.  Plus the must influential radicals from Inarah (Luxenberg and the Puins) work with Reynolds as well, and their work is constantly cited and engaged by the Reynolds' group.

    It's really amazing to me how Reynolds basically redefined the field of Qur'anic studies.  I think a major reason for his success is that he took charge of publishing works by those scholars who realized that *if Luxenberg can rampage so successfully and produce startling insights, despite being a relative amateur*, then there was a huge professional opportunity for them to produce critical scholarship as well; easy pickings, all you had to do was abandon traditionalism and approach the Qur'an anew, jettisoning the massive traditional apparatus.  Everybody became jealous of the momentum that Reynolds' group produced, and bandwagoned it.

    The other signature development here is that many scholars don't seem to really care much about mastery of the traditional Islamic apparatus.  It's not that they consider it completely meaningless.  It's that they don't see it as a starting point, and you need not be a master of the entire corpus of traditional Islamic scholarship to analyze the Qur'an -- that actually tends to impede critical analysis.  More important nowadays is technical linguistic/orthographic analysis, as well as using the tools of criticism that scholars have developed in related fields (NT studies most obviously, as well as Judaic studies).  This has allowed scholars from many other disciplines to critically analyze the Qur'an, which again is a prominent feature of Reynolds' camp (as well as Inarah group) -- an indifference to requiring people to be part of the professional cabal before their opinion matters.  Zellentin, for example, is a professor of Jewish studies.  The insights of such scholars are often far more profound than the slavish traditional Orientalism that has pervaded Islamic studies until recently.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #3 - October 27, 2014, 04:33 PM

    Btw I have been keeping my eye on Zellentin's book for awhile, it looks pretty good but I am waiting for a cheap used copy.  Here it is.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/3161527208/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2HG91LNRK0EUP&coliid=IKW36SZHQA6JS
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #4 - October 27, 2014, 04:57 PM

    Thanks. Here's a review of it posted on Amazon:
    Quote
    This short "pocket-book" punches over its weight.

    Zellentin here takes an old argument, that there existed a Jewish-Christian milieu which influenced the Qur'an, and he updates it thoroughly. Earlier scholars had proposed a specific sect or other of Jewish-Christians; usually the Clementine Homilies were brought up, and Schlomo Pines was cited. *This* book accepts the Homilies, for what they were; but concedes that Pines's most forceful argument to that end is dead: 176f fn. 2. For Zellentin, it suffices that Jewish-Christian ideals survived to the Islamic era. Zellentin brings from the past, the Didascalia; and from the (post-Muhammadan) future, patriarch Athanasius of Balad. Between them, they bridge the gap between the Clementine Homilies and the Qur'an's community.

    Zellentin develops his thesis by parallel. For instance, we find that the Didascalia insisted on refraining from impure meat - like that sacrificed to a false god. In this it contradicted Saint Paul, and followed Jewish law and the Clementines. The later Athanasius of Balad agreed with the Didascalia, updating the doctrines such that Christians should not eat halal. The Qur'an for its part takes the opposite tack, that Muslims *must* eat halal (or kosher) and avoid Christian food. Either way, both Athanasius and the Qur'an agree on the same principles, which one might label *meta*-Jewish-Christian; or, in a more Oriental vein, Jewish-Christian usul al-fiqh.

    The book is self-consciously impressionistic. It does not take sides as to when this or that sura may have been composed. I do detect that it focuses on the *legal* suras, of which I'm mostly catching suras 5, 6, and 17. The book sports a sura-index at the end, which namechecks many more ayat; but those don't figure in the argument. (I do have to say, I like having sura-indices. Even if the verse isn't central to the book's point, students of a given sura can take inspiration from it.)

    The one comment I would make here is that, just because Pines's main hobbyhorse has expired, doesn't mean all the Western literature about specific Jewish-Christian sects in Islamic origins has passed on with it. Still of merit, starting with Sprenger and von Harnack, are the works on how Islam's practical doctrines might be Elkasaite. So Zellentin's book should be read alongside some of these articles.

    Also, the publisher / editor needs to understand that the page headings should match the chapter header. Currently the left-side page headings refer to chapters and the right-side headings to subchapters. The normal rules are to put the book title on the left but, I don't really care about that (I mean, come on, I always know what *book* I'm reading). What I *do* care about is that the table of contents doesn't list the subchapters. This makes it hard to find out where in the book I'm at. The TOC needs to be in a smaller font and it needs to include the subchapters. (Perhaps I'm getting too irritable.)

    Overall, I see nothing here to knock out that fifth star from the review. I recommend it.

    We are also promised a future work by Patricia Crone on the same subject, although it comes in a "tragic postscript" (xxiii) in the strong risk it be her last. I look forward to her book, and pray for her remission. In the meantime, von Harnack's thoughts on the Elkasaites may be had from Ibn Warraq, "Christmas in the Koran" and Roncaglia's sequel from "Koranic Allusions".


    Review by David Reid Ross - more of his reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1Q1EMKIEH0QCJ/ref=cm_cr_pr_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview

    He has also written these books: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ADavid%20Reid%20Ross

    Essays on his website: https://sites.google.com/site/zimrielproject/islam/
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #5 - October 27, 2014, 05:09 PM

    I have always wondered why certain scholars cling to the traditional narratives of the rise of Islam when they were written so late. Pretty much everything from the traditional accounts was written nearly 200 years later. In comparison, many New Testament scholars highly distrust the gospel narratives to give accurate info about the life of Jesus although they were written only 30-70 years after the death of Jesus. Both were written by members and proselytizers of the new faith so why give Islamic traditions the credence that it is normally given?

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #6 - October 27, 2014, 05:19 PM

    It's clear why believing Muslims might cling to such accounts.  But why Western scholars?  I honestly believe a major reason is simply professional cliquishness -- Islamic studies have traditionally been a small province, zealously guarded from invasion by the vast swarms of Judaic and Christian scholars.  Mastery of the vast apparatus of Classical Arabic exegesis has traditionally been used as a requirement to get your foot in the professional door, and once in, to keep others out.  So it has been a small coterie of specialists working alongside traditional Muslim scholars, which has insulated Qur'anic studies from the developments in modern linguistic research and such.

    A second major reason is because the alternative is not 'the truth' but rather continuing under great uncertainty about even basic questions in the field.  Unlike the New Testament, for example, we can't even be very confident about what the Qur'an is trying to say, or what its language actually is, where it was produced, by whom, etc. 
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #7 - October 27, 2014, 08:20 PM

    I have really noticed that. If you pick up a textbook on the New Testament today it will talk about all sorts of redaction criticism and gospels such as the Gospel of John being created in layers and not written all at one time. But it seems when it comes to mainstream books on Islamic origins, it seems to treat the Quran as a monolithic document with one author composed in its entire form at one time as well as taking sketchy Islamic tradition at face value.

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #8 - October 27, 2014, 08:25 PM

    ............. But it seems when it comes to mainstream books on Islamic origins, it seems to treat the Quran as a monolithic document with one author composed in its entire form at one time as well as taking sketchy Islamic tradition at face value.

    well  you should also know the reason for that justperusing  and you also know why all people including many non-Muslim politicians/ leaders   say that book is monolithic document and it is the word of Allah..

    http://www.livius.org/opinion/Luxenberg.htm
    http://www.christoph-heger.de/2008-03-14_Inarah-Symposion_Christoph_Heger_5.pdf
    http://aliqapoo.com/2008/08/13/circular-reasoning/

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #9 - October 27, 2014, 09:17 PM

    I have really noticed that. If you pick up a textbook on the New Testament today it will talk about all sorts of redaction criticism and gospels such as the Gospel of John being created in layers and not written all at one time. But it seems when it comes to mainstream books on Islamic origins, it seems to treat the Quran as a monolithic document with one author composed in its entire form at one time as well as taking sketchy Islamic tradition at face value.


    Yes, but I think in fairness that partly reflects the fact that no real consensus has been reached by critical scholars.  It's very difficult to explain the field's current status to laymen.  So mainstream books still lumber along with the traditional explanations, almost completely ignoring modern scholarship.

    It doesn't help that the three biggest sources of the 'composed in layers' view are Luling, Wansbrough, and Luxenberg.  While their basic arguments are partly correct, all three have also taken positions that, in large part, are clearly incorrect and overstated (Luling's historical background is silly, Wansbrough gives much too long a time period for Qur'anic compilation, and Luxenberg is much too undisciplined and speculative).  And that makes it very difficult to recommend any critical source on Qur'anic composition.

    As I have said before, I think reading the Qur'an through Islamic tradition actually impairs people from understanding it.  Better is to simply read what it actually says, bearing in mind the larger religious context of late Antiquity -- after all, the Qur'an was addressed to those people, and the Qur'an could not be more explicit about their existing familiarity with Biblical narratives.  Especially useful is to throw out all the [parentheticals] used by translations, which try to read Islamic exegesis into the text.  If you throw out all the baggage, what you see is a composite text in constant evolution, in which older forms are deformed and altered, while their meaning similarly undergoes evolution.  I think the main such evolution is from brief anecdotes of anonymous monotheist preaching in the earliest materials to -- in my view probably the latest layer -- interpolations about an Arabian prophet named Muhammad who is the seal of the prophets, aka 33:40.

    Incidentally this is part of the problem with Luxenberg -- while he often correctly recognizes that the Qur'an contains deformed versions of Christian antecedents, he fails to recognize that the transformation was largely complete by the time the complete Qur'an was assembled.  So the "virgins of heaven" probably started out as a metaphorical extension of Syriac Christian descriptions of paradise, but by the time the Qur'an was completed, the references to "houris" really were specifically referring to celestial virgins -- even if careful linguistic analysis can discover that this is a distortion of a sort from more Christian ancestors.  Some portions of the Qur'an may follow the older usage, but the newer portions have been Islamicized (compare the use of the term "Muhammad" -- same issue).

    In its last phase of significant alteration, the Qur'an as we have it was reworked (in my view) to support the narrative of a divinely inspired Arabian prophet with a special Arab revelation, which had become politically expedient, and by the time this concept was written into the Qur'an via alterations, additions, and redactions, its text had been largely Islamicized (as Luling correctly noted).  This must have happened relatively quickly, perhaps 30-60 years after Mo's death.  But the materials which were reworked, bits of monotheist preaching, had been in existence for much longer still.  This is why the "Mohammed" readings are so awkward and random from a grammatical perspective ... they seem to be imposed on a more basic text that anybody could have read to the faithful ("say this......") in connection with reading liturgy (again, Qur'an simply meaning 'lectionary' in its original Syriac-derived sense), just as anybody could deliver a generic sermon without it being considered a divine revelation to a prophet. 

    After it was partially reworked in this specific-prophet emphasizing fashion (which was probably a major state-sponsored project), there was still some significant scribal modification and alteration (such as the Sanaa I palimpsest shows), monkeying with the rhymes and verse divisions, but the level of variation at that point was more adding and clarifying bits of text rather than wholesale massive fabrications or deletions.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #10 - October 27, 2014, 10:13 PM

    What would you consider the terminus ante quem for when the Quran was compiled into the form it is today? Would that be the Sanaa manuscripts which seem to be our earliest copies? Also is it true that the first ever mention of the word "Quran" was an inscription dating from the late 7th century?

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #11 - October 27, 2014, 11:00 PM

    I think by the 690s most of the Uthmanic rasm was solidified, and by the 720s you probably had a fairly standard complete set of suras that became enforced as the standard Qur'an, with some variant earlier manuscripts still floating around (and fictitiously attributed to "Companions" of Mohammed).  The earliest Qur'anic manuscripts all tend to have the long surahs but are missing the many smaller suras at the end of today's Qur'an.  Islamic Awareness has a great page on this subject, showing that 90% of the text in terms of total length (although not nearly as many surahs, since the early surahs are so much larger) is present in Qur'anic manuscripts by the end of the first century AH.

    http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss/hijazi.html



    I think the smaller surahs (10% of the length but nearly 50% of the total number of surahs) were probably added last as a 'catch-all' of remaining base material after the main composition was assembled, that's my current hypothesis, which is why the short surahs tend to have especially peculiar and archaic language relative to the larger surahs (which I think were more heavily reworked and Islamicized).

    I suspect the "Sanaa I palimpsest" and the "Uthmanic rasm" both probably branched off from a common ancestor that was created in the time period from 660-680 ... they are both somewhat modified versions of an ancestral Qur'anic manuscript that we no longer have, but which I suspect was the real major Qur'anic composition, likely funded by the Umayyad caliphate for use as religio-political propaganda.  What we have today is a moderately revised and souped-up version of that major composition, adding a lot of smaller surahs, and massively upgrading the orthography.  But this 'major composition,' as I've called it, was itself already assembled from preexisting Qur'anic materials, some of them going back long before Mohammed.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #12 - October 27, 2014, 11:10 PM

    Interesting. Thanks!

    But when was the earliest mentioning of the Quran as an actual compiled work?

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #13 - October 27, 2014, 11:12 PM

    Your last question about "Qur'an" is interesting, I am not sure when the first dated inscription is, but I'd assume it would date to around when Ibn al Zubayr and Abd al Malik began using Islamic propaganda, so from 690-710 most likely.

    That said, remember that "Qur'an" is probably the OLDEST term for the OLDEST base layer in what we now call the "Qur'an," and as such its use is probably archaic ... as it was borrowed from the Syriac "qeryana", I don't see it as an innovation, I assume that it would have been a common term in Arabic vernacular preaching.

    So I would not expect to see it used much earlier than around 690 in the *Islamic* sense, but it had likely been used for centuries in a *Christian* sense.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #14 - October 27, 2014, 11:17 PM

    Interesting. Thanks!

    But when was the earliest mentioning of the Quran as an actual compiled work?


    The earliest mention of the Qur'an that I am aware of comes in three forms.  First, Qur'anic inscriptions such as the Dome of the Rock (692).  Second, Qur'anic manuscripts (start to show up around 680/690).  Third, in terms of non-Qur'anic mentions of a compiled Qur'an manuscript, the earliest that I am aware of is this rather famous discussion by St. John of Damascus (a member of the Umayyad caliphate's court so he must have been somewhat knowledgeable) .... this was probably written around 730-750 .... notoriously, John seems to have been under the impression at the time that the "Surah of the Cow" is a separate book from the rest of the Qur'an, which it might have been at a somewhat earlier period of John's life.  Here's what he says about the Qur'an:

    http://www.bombaxo.com/blog/st-john-of-damascus-on-islam/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Damascus

    It is rather incredible that the Qur'an played so little role for so long in the inscriptions and texts of the region, but I think that cannot be interpreted as meaning that it did not exist (as some skeptical scholars have concluded) -- rather that the uthmanic Qur'an probably was not considered particularly authoritative yet for questions of religious practice and legal justice.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #15 - October 27, 2014, 11:27 PM

    Hmm... it has always fascinated me that if Islam was at the heart of the Arab conquests and the Quran was compiled soon after the death of the prophet, why is there almost zero mention of it or Muhammad until such a late period? How could this even be possible under the traditional narratives?

    Anyway, so if I have your thoughts accurately, you believe that the Qur'an was written to be a commentary on earlier texts and scripture in a literate Christian environment, and the stories of it being revealed to a prophet "Muhammad" were later innovations so the Arabs could start a new religion? And the language of this group was not the classical Arabic that Islamic scholars have tried to force upon the text?

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #16 - October 27, 2014, 11:34 PM

    OMG, this thread is pure gold. I wish I had something more meaningful to say. But fuckit... OMG. Thank you all for existing and learning how to write and writing on here.

    Hi
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #17 - October 27, 2014, 11:37 PM

    Borrowing again from NT studies, I believe the Qur'an likely originated as *commentary* that correctly relayed the *true meaning* of the Holy scriptures in an Arabic vernacular (since the Bible was not translated into Arabic until around 1000 AD).  This commentary would have been a generic message that was repeated within the Syrian/Palestinian Arabic community; a sort of Judaizing Christian preaching that was used in a liturgical context (probably alongside readings of portions of the scripture in Syriac, which most of the Arabic-speaking audience would not have understood, just as most Catholics would not understand droning Latin liturgy).

    This tradition of vernacular preaching was later attributed to Mohammed and the texts were slowly adapted to express that attribution ... in other words, Islamicized.

    In other words, it is somewhat like the letters of St. Paul (many of which we know were forged) -- they started out as just letters talking about how to be a good Christian, and later they became canonized as divine scripture.  What you see in the Qur'an is something similar, what began as simply a truthful vernacular explanation of how to understand the divine revelation became ITSELF later treated as a divine revelation, and then fictitiously attributed to a specific divinely-inspired individual.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #18 - October 27, 2014, 11:55 PM

    Wow that does seem to make a lot of sense. So would you say the Quran and Islam had anything to do with the initial expansion of the Arab empire? Or was the Quran picked up as a tool to create a new faith to unify the empire?

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #19 - October 28, 2014, 12:16 AM

    Definitely the latter.  It took a long time for the Qur'an to be composed and longer still for it to matter beyond a tiny group of people.  The traditional story about the primacy of oral Qur'anic recitation is partly a way to explain why the historical record is devoid of anybody hearing about, talking about, citing, or inscribing the Qur'an until about 60 years after Mohammed's death.  The simpler way to explain that is that it did not exist, and what Qur'anic base material did exist was not in a widely-disseminated Islamic form.

    What I think *did* play a role in the initial stage of Arab empire is general monotheistic piety within Arab circles, part of that piety being the generic monotheist preaching of the type that later got compiled into the Qur'an.  Mohammed's movement in particular was built on such a climate of generic monotheist belief (similar to what Donner argues).

    So I would say that Mohammed's movement was partly based on pre-Qur'anic Arabic materials, and the Qur'an itself was later compiled -- ironically -- as a way to attempt to attribute those older materials to Mohammed's revelation, as if he had originated them rather than vice versa!  The one major thing Mohammed himself probably contributed was apocalyptic militant leadership centered around the idea that the Arabs were destined to rule Palestine, under his leadership, and see the Last Judgment descend.  But then Allah's Caliph unexpectedly died, like Jesus, without any such Last Judgment coming -- the sad fate of all imminent apocalyptic folk, because the apocalypse never actually comes.  30-40 years of oral storytelling later, however, he becomes resurrected as the patron saint of the Umayyad empire, and away we go.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #20 - October 28, 2014, 02:09 AM

    "So I would say that Mohammed's movement was partly based on pre-Qur'anic Arabic materials, and the Qur'an itself was later compiled -- ironically -- as a way to attempt to attribute those older materials to Mohammed's revelation, as if he had originated them rather than vice versa!"

    Wow so do you think most of the material that became part of the Quran predated Muhammad? And this material was mainly Arabic commentaries to explain and interpret scripture that had not been translated to Arabic?

    "The one major thing Mohammed himself probably contributed was apocalyptic militant leadership centered around the idea that the Arabs were destined to rule Palestine, under his leadership, and see the Last Judgment descend.  But then Allah's Caliph unexpectedly died, like Jesus, without any such Last Judgment coming -- the sad fate of all imminent apocalyptic folk, because the apocalypse never actually comes.  30-40 years of oral storytelling later, however, he becomes resurrected as the patron saint of the Umayyad empire, and away we go."

    While I was researching the historical Jesus it seemed clear he preached an extremely imminent Last Judgment. This can be seen in the sayings in the gospels which have been shown to early as well as the epistles of Paul. What evidence is there that Muhammad taught a similar imminent apocalypse besides the fact that the Quran stresses the importance of Judgment Day so much?

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #21 - October 28, 2014, 11:13 AM

    It would be interesting if archeologists found surahs or parts of the quran predating 570(the birth of the prophet).
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #22 - October 28, 2014, 11:22 AM

    Does the bible count? Grin

    `But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
     `Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm mad.  You're mad.'
     `How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
     `You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #23 - October 28, 2014, 07:04 PM

    Ha!
    ...I was thinking though more along the lines of word for word copy of a whole surah. This would be very significant, because the choice would be between denial of carbon dating or accepting that the Quran isn't what muslims believe it is.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #24 - October 28, 2014, 08:46 PM

    "So I would say that Mohammed's movement was partly based on pre-Qur'anic Arabic materials, and the Qur'an itself was later compiled -- ironically -- as a way to attempt to attribute those older materials to Mohammed's revelation, as if he had originated them rather than vice versa!"


    I've read an article by a scholar that argues that aspects of the Qur'an may in fact be Christian (sect) hymnals. I wish I could contribute more to this but I'm so tired. There's such good stuff on this thread. Keep it guys and gals!  Afro

    No free mixing of the sexes is permitted on these forums or via PM or the various chat groups that are operating.

    Women must write modestly and all men must lower their case.

    http://www.ummah.com/forum/showthread.php?425649-Have-some-Hayaa-%28modesty-shame%29-people!
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #25 - November 03, 2014, 02:50 PM

    Holger Zellentin - The Qur'an's legal tradition in historical context:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aqpYgNVzK2w
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #26 - November 03, 2014, 02:55 PM

    Call for Papers: Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association

    http://iqsaweb.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/cfp-jiqsa/
    Quote
    IQSA is pleased to announce the launch of the Journal of the International Qurʾanic Studies Association (JIQSA). In support of the Association’s mission of fostering scholarship on the Qurʾan, JIQSA will commence publication twice annually beginning in the first quarter of 2016.

    The Journal is being launched at a time of particular vitality and growth in Qurʾanic Studies, and its primary goal is to encourage the further development of the discipline in innovative ways. Methodologies of particular interest to the Journal include historical-critical, contextual-comparative, and literary approaches to the Qurʾan. We especially welcome articles that explore the Qurʾan’s origins in the religious, cultural, social, and political contexts of Late Antiquity; its connections to various literary precursors, especially the scriptural and parascriptural traditions of older religious communities; the historical reception of the Qurʾan in the West; the hermeneutics and methodology of Qurʾanic exegesis and translation (both traditional and modern); the transmission and evolution of the textus receptus and the manuscript tradition; and the application of various literary and philological modes of investigation into Qurʾanic style and compositional structure.

    We currently welcome submissions of articles for publication in the first volume. The complete Call for Papers is available here. Articles will be rigorously peer-reviewed through a double-blind review process, with reviewers appointed by the Head Editor and the Editorial Board. Interested parties are invited to email JIQSA@iqsaweb.org for more information about JIQSA and style and submission guidelines.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #27 - November 03, 2014, 03:22 PM

    Gabriel Said Reynolds - On the Qur’an and Modern Standard Arabic
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #28 - November 04, 2014, 04:04 PM

    In a nutshell, the Qur'anic base was actually commentary in a North Arabic dialect mixed with Syriac liturgy aimed at introducing Judaic/Christian teachings to Levantine Arabs circa 600 AD, maybe preached by an apocalyptic prophet named Muhammad who died before the conquest of Palestine.

    The Umayyads then consolidated control over competing tribes by codifying the religion, the Qur'an and Islamic teachings by taking these disparate texts and Zubayr's Mecca-focused ideology as their own, although that process wasn't complete until the mid 700's. Unfortunately they didn't have the historical, cultural or linguistic context to make sense of the original rasm text. The text may have remained fairly static but the society around it had changed radically.

    Is that the correct idiot's guide version of it? Smiley

    There are so many new critical studies looking at the Qur'an from linguistic, historical and cultural points of view that I think we're in a kind of golden age for skepticism. I find it weird that most Western non-Muslim scholars are still afraid of digging in with sharp knives into the carcass of the Qur'an... Are they scared of being physically harmed by fanatics or having their funding cut by Islamophobia-phobic administrators?
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #29 - November 04, 2014, 04:38 PM

    ^It does look like there's a bit of caution out there in academia. In publishing as well - after all why are there so few books on the subject that are aimed at the general public rather than specialists? Look in any bookshop and you'll find a shelf of books, good and bad but aimed at a general readership, taking early Christianity apart. For early Islam there's Tom Holland's book and that's about it. I can't help feeling it's an indication of cowardice on the part of publishers - maybe they're still looking back at Salman Rushdie and Satanic Verses. I have wondered if the pricing of some of the academic books on Islam is part of the same thing, on the basis that university libraries will still buy a copy at a ridiculous price but the fanatics probably won't.
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